Ocado offered me the opportunity to try their dedicated vegetarian shop - a shopping resource they put together to help people find products specifically aimed at vegetarians and exclude those products with unexpected animal products in the ingredients. There are plenty of ready meals and meat-substitutes, which are not really my thing - processed food is processed food, no matter whether it contains meat or not. But there are other useful pantry items, and lightly processed foods such as tofu, that do regularly make it into my kitchen.
Okay, I have a confession. There is one meat substitute that I do eat, against my better nature. Sausages are one of the only things that I miss about being a vegetarian, even twenty-four years after I made the switch. But vegetarian sausages are generally revolting - I have eaten some before that literally tasted of soap (Quorn, I’m taking about you).
But Cauldron sausages are in a whole different league. They might have a terrifying list of unpronounceable ingredients, but they’re the best thing I have found for recreating the joy of a hot, salty, well buttered sausage sandwich. Great hangover food. They also make vegetarian toad-in-the-hole a reality, and I’m not sure I can live my life without ever eating toad-in-the-hole again. Anyway, they sell them too.
Ocado gave me £100 to spend at the shop, so I had a really thorough look through the available products. I ended up choosing quite a few things I've never had before, such as raw food products; although they're pretty expensive, they have better ingredients lists and gentler manufacturing processes. There were a wide range of different tofus available, so I took this opportunity to compare their selection side-by-side.
One fantastic find I can report is Taifun Organic Smoked Tofu with Almonds & Sesame Seeds. This is, hands down, the best tofu I have ever eaten in my whole life. I'm pretty sure I'm going to have to dedicate a whole post to it soon. I'm not a huge fan of tofu as a rule, but this was astonishingly delicious. Unlike some smoked tofus which just have smoke flavour added, this tofu is actually smoked, which dries it out and firms it up, giving it the most amazing chew. It's a deep, dark brown colour on the outside from the smoke, and the meaty flavour is out of this world. It's so good that I actually find myself fantasising about it, trying to work out when I will next get the chance to eat it. I even decided to forgo a takeaway pizza the other day, in favour of making something at home with this tofu. That is not a typical swap in my world, I am usually a slave to the siren's call of pizza. It's that good. It is quite pricey, especially compared to tofus that only have smoke flavour added, but this is the real, real, real deal. A revelation! I strongly urge you to give it a go (and no, this post was not sponsored by Taifun).
This was my selection from the available range:
Nut and seed butters
Dragonfly Gluten Free Organic Marinated Tofu 200g £2.19
Dragonfly Gluten Free Organic Natural Tofu 250g £1.90
Taifun Organic Smoked Tofu with Almonds & Sesame Seeds 200g £3.19
Taifun Organic Traditional Tofu 200g £1.29
Clearspring Organic Japanese Silken & Smooth Tofu 300g £1.85
Booja-Booja Dairy Free Raspberry Ecuadorian Chocolate Truffles 69g £4.99
Goody Good Stuff Free From Sour Mix & Match 100g £1.30
Creative Nature Organic Cacao Powder, Peruvian 100g £3.59
Creative Nature Organic Cacao Nibs, Peruvian 300g £6.80
Sukrin Raw Almond Flour 250g £5.00
You can try the shop for yourself, if you fancy, at www.ocado.com/vegetarian